Registered Dietitian Approved Snacks

Are you looking to up your snack game? Snacking is a great way to get nutrition into your day, fuel your appetite, and honor those daytime and bedtime cravings. As a mom, dairy farmer, athlete, and registered dietitian, I rely on a variety of foods, including dairy for nutrition-packed snacks to fuel my family and me. Making nutritious snacks doesn’t have to be stressful.

Snacking Nutrition and Taste

When you make a snack, pair foods to create a combination of carbohydrates, fat, protein, and micronutrients. This is done for main meals as well, but in smaller and more convenient portions for snacks. Dairy is a great food group to use for snack combinations as it pairs well with all food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, and other proteins), while providing quality nutrition.

Dairy provides carbohydrates, protein, and fat, along with vitamins and minerals that offer satiety and nutrition to your day. Since dairy products offer a large range of convenience, flavor, and variety, you can find one to accompany nearly anything. When it comes to making snacks for those who are lactose intolerant, many dairy products come in lactose-free options, while many hard cheeses are almost lactose free.

Snacking will fuel your body and satisfy cravings between meals. It’s also important to stay hydrated, so keep milk or water close by to have available all throughout your day.

Snacking that Fits Your Lifestyle

Know your snacking needs, and then identify snacks that fit into your lifestyle. Do you need kid-friendly munchies, or appetizer-style snacks for guests? Or do you need snacks on hand for a post-workout fuel? Here are some registered dietitian approved snack hacks to keep in mind:

  • On the go: It’s all about convenience. Keep granola on hand to mix into yogurt, or have a supply of cheese slices to accompany dried fruit, nuts, or even applesauce packs. These options travel well and are great for an individual snack, or a car full of hungry kids.
  • For families: Keep it simple, cost-effective, and fast when feeding the growing kids. Offering selections from all the food groups is still the best way to provide the nutrition that will meet their growing appetites and bodies. If it’s after school, prepare options from each food group such as; cheese sticks, yogurt, fruit (fresh, dried, or canned), pre-cut vegetables, crackers, and deli meat. Younger kids can have fun exploring different tastes as well with age-appropriate portions to develop their motor skills for eating while expanding their flavor preferences.
  • For guests and crowds: You don’t have to trade fancy and fun for easy. If you’re planning a snack-based menu, pick a few recipes that have nutritional density to provide satisfying and convenient options. Charcuterie boards are trendy, easy, and fun. Dips are another classic go-to. Layered dips can provide many flavors and nutrients alongside toasted breads and veggies.
  • At work: Make it fun and satisfying. That 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. snack is something you should look forward to! You can gear your snack to satisfy your sweet or savory cravings. Keep trail mix on hand and pair it with cheese or yogurt to add variety to your snack options. A morning smoothie is also a great way to fill up if you’re in a meeting or tackling a task where drinking is easier.
  • To fuel a workout: Don’t go into your workout with an empty fuel tank. Have a light snack such as cereal with milk or a cheese sandwich a couple hours beforehand. Post workout, another light snack such as chocolate milk or drinkable yogurt to help your body recover from your workout. If your next meal is a few hours out or you know you’ll be having a late main meal, the snack will need to be more substantial, such as cheese or yogurt.

Snacking With Dairy

Dairy can help you become a snacking pro to meet your nutrition, taste, and lifestyle needs since the options are endless for dairy.

Yogurt, the best friend snack: Yogurt can satisfy both sweet and savory cravings, making it a universal best friend for pairing with other foods. Try freezing yogurt with fruit and granola as pops or bark, or making yogurt dips to serve with vegetables. Add your favorite trail mix to yogurt, or prepare a yogurt-based smoothie for a morning/on-the-go snack.

Milk, the classic snack: Milk is great to have throughout the day, and can easily be paired with crackers or fruit. A glass of milk (warm or cold) can be the perfect bedtime snack for adults or kids, especially if you’ve had an earlier dinner. Don’t forget to refuel with chocolate milk post workouts to start replenishing muscles, electrolytes, and fluids.

Cheese, the best finger food snack: Cheese is possibly the most convenient of dairy foods. It’s a natural finger food, easy to pack, and can be cut into bite-size pieces. You can roll deli meat around string cheese or layer apple and cheese slices. You can also serve fresh mozzarella with cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, chocolate and cheese slices, or create mini charcuterie plates with cut cheese, jerky, fruit, and nuts. For more substantial snacking, make a small wrap with hummus, cheese and sliced veggies, a classic grilled cheese loaded up with veggies, or cottage cheese or ricotta with fruit.

Own Your Snack

Don’t underestimate the fueling benefits and taste of a great snack. Including dairy in your snack line-up is a great way to satisfy nutritional needs and taste-bud cravings. Let snacks compliment your meals and lifestyle!